Rice Unconventional Wisdom

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Welcome to the Center for Civic Leadership

The mission of the Center for Civic Leadership is to foster engaged citizenship through integrated curricular and experiential learning opportunities. These opportunities help students develop the capacity to exercise civic leadership by better understanding themselves, their responsibilities as citizens, the complexity of social issues, and the mechanisms for creating sustainable change in Houston and communities beyond.

The Center for Civic Leadership will be recognized as a model for creating mutually beneficial university-community partnerships that promote positive, sustainable change. Our students and graduates will engage the world confidently and courageously, poised to take action on the challenges they deem most important based on their values, and they will exercise leadership as compassionate, critical thinking citizens whose engagement in communities reflects a dynamic process that continues throughout their lives.

The CCL supports these efforts through four offices: the Community Involvement Center, Leadership Rice, Civic Research and Design, and Fellowships and Undergraduate Research. Beginning in the 2014-2015 academic year, Rice undergraduate students will have the opportunity to develop their capacity as civic leaders through the Certificate in Civic Leadership

The Community Involvement Center develops a culture of service within the University, advocating community service and social responsibility for all members of the Rice community. The CIC acts as a clearinghouse of resources and referrals on community agencies, service opportunities, service-learning, and other means of public service. It strives to raise awareness of social issues for the University community. Finally, the CIC empowers students, faculty, and staff to become leaders in affecting social change at local, national, and international levels, and to develop a lifelong commitment to service.

Leadership Rice encourages and equips Rice students to obtain significant leadership roles. It seeks to develop civic-minded leaders for whom the practice of leadership represents a means of impacting their communities. Leadership Rice facilitates the exploration of essential leadership concepts and their application in modern society. The program also builds a network of students, alumni, and community partners who promote each other’s success.

Civic Research and Design promotes and develops opportunities for members of the Rice community to engage directly with the City of Houston through collaborative, community-based research and design. We host and recognize a number of courses, programs, and activities that allow students, faculty members, and community partners to work together on Houston-based civic projects.  We identify experiential learning courses from across the university that provide students with opportunities to work with Rice faculty and community partners on projects that address challenges facing the Houston community.  We work directly with faculty and community leaders and organizations to identify existing, and facilitate new, civic collaborations.  And our HART Program provides opportunities for small, interdisciplinary teams of Rice undergraduate students to work together with local community members and organizations to answer questions and solve problems facing Houston and its citizens.

The Office of Fellowships and Undergraduate Research serves as a campus-wide clearinghouse of national and international prestigious awards and research and design opportunities. OFUR promotes the opportunities available to Rice undergraduates, and mentors and equips students to successfully compete for these experiences. OFUR also coordinates programs such as the Century Scholars and the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS) that enrich the undergraduate research experience.  


Please explore our website to learn more about more of our exciting programs. We also invite you to visit the center on the second floor of the RMC (Ley Student Center). For additional information please contact us at cce@rice.edu or (713)348-2223. 


Class of 2016 wraps up week of activities with more than 1,646 hours of community service   

Sponsored by Rice’s Community Involvement Center (CIC), Outreach Day gives students an opportunity to make a positive impact on the Houston community by engaging in volunteer activities throughout the city.After nearly a week of orientation activities, Rice’s newest Owls ventured outside the hedges last Saturday to give their time and talents as part of Rice’s annual Outreach Day.

“Many of our students have previous volunteer experience but are unaware of the needs in their new community or don’t have any connections to Houston organizations,” CIC Director Mac Griswold said. “O-Week Outreach Day is a chance for them to re-engage with social issues that they find compelling.”

The students contributed approximately 1,646 hours of community service, valued at $35,882, according to Independent Sector, a coalition of corporations, foundations and private voluntary organizations that works to strengthen America’s nonprofits.

Outreach Day has been a longtime staple of the orientation experience for Rice University students, Griswold said.

“Much of O-Week focuses, as it should, on internal community building and academic advising; this part of the week looks at building external relationships,” he said. “This is true in terms of connecting students from different colleges, but also connecting them to off-campus nonprofit organizations.”

It’s not difficult for students to connect with an organization, thanks to the diverse mix of Outreach Day participants. The groups involved represent a combination of long-term community partners and new organizations, Griswold said.

One participant in this year’s day of service was the Houston chapter of Best Buddies, a national organization dedicated to establishing a volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-on-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Rice students who volunteered with Best Buddies spent the day interacting with the adult residents, who live and work at the center.

“They’re carrying on conversations, getting acquainted with them, playing games,” said Anne Hopton-Jones, the Best Buddies program supervisor. “It’s a really fun day and a chance for Rice students to get to know people they might not otherwise meet in the Houston area.”

McMurtry College freshman Leah Topper said she was involved in her hometown and really wanted to do Outreach Day. “I really wanted to see what Houston has to offer,” she said. “This seems like a really good way to start off and get to know what is available here.”

“This is one of our great resources that we have to help others and to give back,” said Wiess College freshman Max Guercy. “Being at O-Week was a great time, but it’s great to get to step outside of Rice and see Houston.”


Rice upperclassmen, faculty and staff assisted the volunteers at the project sites, which also included:

AniMeals on Wheels, a program of Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston that provides seniors with more than 7,000 pounds of food for their pets.

The Beacon, Cathedral Health Outreach Ministry’s day center. Students assisted with meal preparation and serving and washing and folding laundry for the organization’s clients.

Catholic Charities Donation Warehouse. Volunteers helped organize and sort donations to Catholic Charities clients (refugees, women and children).

DePelchin Children’s Center. Volunteers assisted with sorting and organizing toys and clothing at the center’s Donation Station.

East Side Village Community Learning Center. Volunteers helped prepare the school for the coming year by purging old paper files and cleaning the area of items that are ready to be stored.

The Heritage Society. Volunteers assisted the building’s curator and painted the fence around the perimeter of one of Houston’s oldest homes.

Hermann Park Conservancy. Volunteers assisted with a number of outdoor projects to enhance the beauty of the facility and help maintain a native habitat, including weeding, watering saplings and pruning plants.

Hostelling International. Volunteers did landscaping for the Morty Rich Hostel in Montrose.

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. Volunteers used gardening tools to remove invasive plant species from the arboretum.

Houston Food Bank. Volunteers sorted donated food items, prepared food drive boxes and checked the quality of donated items for distribution to low-income families.

Magnificat House Inc. Volunteers worked in the Loaves & Fishes soup kitchen and assisted with food preparation and other chores and served food to more than 200 clients.

Nehemiah Neighborhood Center. Volunteers weeded flower beds and spread mulch around the play area of a neighborhood childcare center.

Partnership for the Advancement and Immersion of Refugees. Volunteers worked with newly arrived refugees living in southwest Houston.

Small Steps Nurturing Center. Volunteers painted the fence around the perimeter of the school; cleaned, covered and installed car seats; and cleaned classroom furniture and the cafeteria tables.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul. Volunteers assisted in sorting donations and preparing them for distribution. They also assisted in the retail area and in stocking the pantry.

Star of Hope Mission. Volunteers assisted with preparing and serving lunch to clients.

Target Hunger. Volunteers assisted with a food fair by sorting, packing and distributing produce to clients.

West U. Senior Services. Volunteers assisted with planting and replacing landscaping at the Community/Senior Services Building in West University Place.

For more information on service opportunities at Rice, visit http://cic.rice.edu.



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